Extending Demophiles

In his quasi-medieval dialogue “On Religion”, Arthur Schopenhauer had the character Demophiles point out the immense difference “between your man who is learned, versed in the art of thinking, and enlightened, and the dull, clumsy, sluggish, and indolent consciousness of humanity’s beasts of burden. Their thoughts have once for all taken the direction of concern and interest for their own livelihood and cannot be moved in any other direction.”

He was, of course, right about the impossibility of moving the dullard’s thoughts once taken, but – perhaps misled by his merchant background – he erred in assuming that concern for livelihood must be their main direction. How about, for instance, saying that, “Their thoughts have once and for all taken the direction of concern for their beautification?” Of course, for many people their beautification is very much part of their livelihood; but not for all, and the others thus have less excuse.

Alternatively, what if we were to talk about the unthinking person’s “dull, clumsy, sluggish, and indolent consciousness of the Other’s responsibility for everything that may befall them?” That would speak even better to our own time, in which one of the great global industries is the proliferation of excuses.

But Schopenhauer would probably agree with the more general formulation, that the dullard cannot be moved from concern for his next short-term manoeuvre, even when this compromises his ultimate goals. Why, that would give us the very definition of the human animal!

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 18:38 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, The Anatomy Of Stupidity

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